By and  on January 13, 2006

NEW YORK — Chanel married society and beauty Wednesday night with a grand fete to celebrate the launch of one svelte little lipstick.

A crowd of over 100 jammed Lever House, including Alan Cumming, Helena Christensen, Stephen Gaghan, Damon Dash, Alek Wek, Rena Sindi, Serena Boardman, Tinsley Mortimer, Rufus Wainwright and Anne Slater.

The occasion was to celebrate the late April launch of Rouge Allure Luminous Satin Lip Colour, a new lipstick sporting the first major redesign of Chanel's classic, sleek packaging. The importance of the event for Chanel was underscored by the presence of Dominique Moncourtois, international director of Chanel Make-Up Creation, who was on hand to help U.S. president Maureen Chiquet host the party. During an interview Tuesday, Moncourtois hinted that Rouge Allure is the opening salvo in a coming stream of innovations for Chanel beauty.

During the party, Chiquet discussed the new lipstick, $29 per tube, as the brand's most expensive lip color, and asserted that it "will become our most luxurious, aspirational lipstick line." Noting that many elements of the lipstick's design were calculated to exude luxury, Chiquet borrowed a line from the house's founder. "As Coco Chanel said, ‘Luxury is something you can do without, but don't.'

"Lip color is very important to us — particularly because Mademoiselle Chanel really established the habit of wearing lip color every day," said Chiquet, noting that before Chanel's 1924 introduction of Rouge de Chanel, the company's first lipstick, lip color was usually confined to the stage.

Moncourtois said, "2006 is going to be the most important year ever [for Chanel] in terms of makeup and skin care," hinting that a new mascara and several other innovations were planned for the second half of 2006. "The next five years are going to be incredible. Lots of things are coming, and we have incredible opportunities in color and skin care technology, as well as packaging."

Moncourtois, who was hired by Coco Chanel herself in 1968, now composes new beauty products with Heidi Morawetz, director of Chanel Make-Up Creation. The pair works in Chanel's Studio Creation Maquillage, the company's international makeup studio in Paris. At any given time, Moncourtois and Morawetz may be working on as many as three dozen concepts — although, on average, just 10 percent end up in the line. "We test a lot of things," said Moncourtois, "but we're not going to manufacture something just for the sake of manufacturing it. Everything we do must have a point of difference, or there is no point in Chanel offering it.

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